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Gov't makes changes to ETA system as Kenya rakes in 1 million USD after abolishing visa

President Ruto's visa gamble pays off as Kenya earns $1 million (Sh158 million) much-needed foreign currency through ETA applications

President William Ruto set to unveil Kenya 3rd generation digital ID

The number of foreigners who have applied to visit Kenya using the newly introduced Electronic Travel Authorisation has hit 32,000 in the last one week.

Data from the Directorate of Immigration shows that out of the total applicants, at least 25,000 have already been cleared, 110 applications rejected for security reasons while the balance is at various stages of processing.

Immigration and Citizen Services PS Prof Julius Bitok said on January 11, that the total revenue obtained through ETA in the same period stands at around $1 million (Sh158 million) with projections pointing to potential rise in tandem with the expected growth in applications.

“We have been able to generate $1 million in the last one week. This is much needed foreign exchange. The number of tourists coming has increased because we have made travelling to Kenya easy,” PS Bitok said in a statement.

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He said the introduction of ETA as a travel procedure was a global trend informed by security concerns and the need to obtain important passenger profiles in advance. It is already in existence in many Western countries.

“Many countries in Europe and America have already introduced ETA and in doing the same, Kenya is being a trail blazer in Africa as it has always been,” he added.

The PS said ETA which has replaced visa as a travel requirement for entry to Kenya is being reviewed and refined to further reduce the turnaround time for applications and approvals.

He revealed that the requirement to attach personal bank statements as part of ETA application has since been dropped alongside other non-essential details to make the application form more friendly.

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During his Jamhuri Day address on December 12, 2023, President William Ruto said Kenya will do away with visas as an entry requirement beginning this year to encourage more visitors into the country.

Besides the nationals of 51 mainly African countries who were previously allowed to travel to Kenya visa-free, all other foreign travellers to Kenya were required to apply and pay for visa at $50.

Citizens of the East African Community members states will be granted free ETA until further notice.

At $30 per application, ETA is intended to harmonise these charges across the board while granting automatic priority to nationals from the countries that were previously eligible for visa-free entry.

The Director General of Immigration Evelyn Cheluget said the government is tapping into customer experiences to enhance ETA efficiency.

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“We have improved the system. We have been listening to feedback from our clients and we’ve gone ahead to reduce the number of questions in the form that that were causing stress,” she said.

She added that the system has been customized to pick and prioritize their applications based on their travel dates.

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